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(Fark)   "This angle isn't acute," Tom said obtusely. This is your Fark Writer's Thread, swift dialog edition   (fark.com) divider line
    More: CSB, Cascading Style Sheets, Writing, 2005 singles, Abdul Alhazred, Word, good number of submissions, potential hazard of writing dialog, Tom Swifty  
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414 clicks; posted to Main » and Discussion » on 14 Apr 2021 at 8:00 PM (4 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-04-14 5:53:08 PM  
The Tom Swifty is of course a potential hazard of writing dialog, and is just another reason some say to avoid adverbs whenever possible.  Of course, replacing the adverb with a different dialog verb can do the same thing: "Look out!  The dam is about to let go!" Tom gushed.

Then again, just using he said, she said, it said also can get dry.  'Said' is supposedly the only invisible word, right up until it's overused and you notice it.  It's one of those things you don't think about, right up until it drives you crazy.

I try to avoid the whole mess by focusing on character actions which drive the dialog.  That's easier to say than to do, of course, but it can work:

"I didn't expect you to come back so soon." She was staring at him, almost expressionless.
"I had to, don't you see?" He waved at the barn.  A thin trail of smoke curled from the upper window.  "You don't think I could just walk away and leave . . . that in there?"
"What do you care?  It's dead."
"You're not."
He felt her eyes boring holes into him.  "You set my alpaca on fire, you son of a biatch," she said.  She had balled her hands into fists.
"Don't worry." He held up his battered copy of The Necronomicon.  "I have a plan."


Okay, I have literally no idea where I was going with that, but regardless, it does convey . . . plot, or something approaching it, through dialog with few attributions and only one 'said.' It's . . . not good, and even if I were writing some kind of weird horror story about a reanimated pet alpaca I like to believe that I wouldn't approach it quite that ham-handedly, but it does illustrate one possible approach to the problem.

How do you approach dialog? Wordy and purple prose, adverbs and all, or terse and action based?

Fark Fiction Anthology update!

We're still getting a good number of submissions coming in and have almost broken 100k words, so keep them coming!

By utter lack of demand, it's: The unsolicited bad writing prompt of the week!

Damnation!  Something had gone wrong.  He had recited the phrases correctly, following every instruction from Abdul Alhazred, and yet disaster had struck the barn again.  He slipped on a small scrap of demonically exploded chicken, dodged the tentacles writhing through the space where the milking machine had stood, and fell face-first into the remains of Bessy the sow.  What was left after the invocation wasn't pretty; he had to wipe bits of Bessy off of his face when he stood up.
"Christ, I've got pig meat all over my fingers," he said ham-handedly.
 
2021-04-14 6:22:53 PM  
"My favorite novel is Moby Dick," Tom said superficially.
 
2021-04-14 6:54:09 PM  
The night was moist
 
2021-04-14 7:38:32 PM  
No, its ugly.....

Ill see myself out...
 
2021-04-14 7:56:19 PM  
I'm not much of a writer, but I did write a Tom Swifty over 20 years ago of which I am very proud.

"Over here is the tomb of Elmer Fudd," Tom quipped.
 
2021-04-14 8:02:42 PM  
It was a dark and stormy night...
 
2021-04-14 8:05:09 PM  
Well, he's right.

*

I always insert action and body language in quotations.
 
2021-04-14 8:05:45 PM  
"I'm from Indiana, grew up rooting for Louisville, and now attend Duke," Madison said stupidly.

Did I do it right?
 
2021-04-14 8:08:54 PM  
This week I'm reading "Heart Songs," a short-story collection by Annie Proulx. These tales seem like collaborations between Robert Frost and Stephen King. There's revenge, murder, revenge, rape, and revenge. Oh, and revenge.

Not much writing to speak of, but I'm working on a FRPG campaign geared towards nongamers, i.e. more role-playing and less murderhoboing.
 
2021-04-14 8:13:47 PM  

Sarah Jessica Farker: I'm not much of a writer, but I did write a Tom Swifty over 20 years ago of which I am very proud.

"Over here is the tomb of Elmer Fudd," Tom quipped.


I guess I'm slow today, but I don't get it.... but please, no spoilers.

"I am dying, Egypt, dying," said Tom, deep in denial.
 
2021-04-14 8:16:27 PM  

WastrelWay: Sarah Jessica Farker: I'm not much of a writer, but I did write a Tom Swifty over 20 years ago of which I am very proud.

"Over here is the tomb of Elmer Fudd," Tom quipped.

I guess I'm slow today, but I don't get it.... but please, no spoilers.

"I am dying, Egypt, dying," said Tom, deep in denial.


Oh, I got it. ....
 
2021-04-14 8:20:03 PM  
Amazon is launching a new reading service for serials. Interesting, but I'll probably continue to focus on novels.
 
2021-04-14 8:21:26 PM  

cretinbob: The night was moist


That's what she said
 
2021-04-14 8:21:46 PM  
I'm more prone to throw adjectives on a 'said' than the theoretical norms would condone. And I've always thought the absolute ban on 'said alternatives' went too far. They can be useful, when doled out carefully. I recently reworked a section of the novel I'm working on, turning it from exposition to dialogue of a sort. Since part of the point is to show that the protagonist is starting to lose it a little, purpleness is not unwarranted.

Our protagonist has been stranded in an alternate universe with absolutely no preparation or background. This timeline forked off hard, more than five thousand years ago, that's all he knows.

----
The grey sky that peeked between the buildings was tinting orange. It would be dark before long.

I was in a very odd frame of mind. Even by the standards of the previous several hours.

I've decided I'll be as honest as I can, writing this all down. I was having - I guess the best word is visions. They were not hallucinations, I want to stress that. I knew it wasn't really happening. I just... kept seeing and hearing a conversation between a tightly wound taskmaster asking questions, and a council of unprepared students providing the answers.

"Okay, what's that in there?" the taskmaster blared.

The social anthropologist reported, "Pretty confident it's a restaurant, not sure on how expensive." An embarrassed pause. "No idea on the crowd." He tried to deflect attention. "Note that there are robots bussing the tables."

The taskmaster pursued that train of thought. "Damn. And we just saw that window-cleaning robot a few minutes ago."

The STEM student spoke up. "Um, actually, we only thought it was probably a robot, and therefore a window cleaner. If it wasn't a robot, who knows? A moving air conditioner?"

The taskmaster cut him off. "Never mind. We've also seen the street-cleaners. We know this place has a bunch of robots. So what conclusions have we come to on these things?"

The STEM student was less assertive now. "Uh... well... still gathering data. They seem very lifelike."

"All right. Okay. Whatever. What do we have in the archives on advanced robots?"

STEM was honest. "Um... a few half-remembered blog posts and several YouTube videos."

"Oh, fark. Fine." A breath. "Fine. Where are we on the writing system?"

Linguistics threw up his hands. "Utterly indecipherable. It's not like we've come across a farking Rosetta Stone." Grudgingly: "The symbols are simple enough that they probably aren't ideograms."

The taskmaster was irritated. "Not helpful. What about spoken language?"

Linguistics didn't hesitate. "All we know for sure is that nobody's said anything that can be recognized as any language we've heard before. Can't even identify language families."

The taskmaster moved on, frustrated. "How about clothes?"

The student of textiles and clothing styles had some confidence. "We've been able to identify several specific clothing items and tagged them according to gender."

The taskmaster was not impressed. "What do we have on the wack color schemes everywhere?"

Every branch of anthropology shrugged at once. "Nothing. Not a goddamn thing."

The taskmaster was exasperated. "Are you kidding me? A day's travel on foot through several kinds of crowds and multiple neighborhood types - and you can't find any rhyme or reason to the color schemes?"

"Swear to God, for a while we were thinking that maybe they were all color blind. But we've seen patterns that don't make any sense whatsoever without color vision. So... apparently they like it this way."

"Christ. Hard to believe." A quick head-shake, dismissing the topic. "Okay. Look, survival, you'd better have something on sustenance."

Survival was tense. "We've identified probable dumpsters. Unfortunately we've only seen them down back alleys, so obviously there's a crime risk. But... we know that people were able to survive that way back in our timeline."

The taskmaster was irritated, but remained philosophical. "Comes down to it, we'll probably survive food poisoning." A sigh. Then, focus. "Okay, what about shelter?"

Survival was trying to stay upbeat. "Well. It's still cloudy. But there's been no rain at all, not even a drip, for about two hours. The day's trend is all decreasing rain. Hopefully that'll continue overnight. We've identified a few classes of nooks and crannies where we might be able to sit down and rest for a while, at least."

The taskmaster had lived in a jungle. "And if it rains? What do we got then?"

Survival could be blunt, too. "A long, cold night for all of us."

"Well, shiat. Okay. Appreciate your honesty." It had been a few seconds since the environment had been swept.

"Hey, what's that up ahead, on the other side of the road?"

A pitiful architectural student at least tried to be precise. "A wildly-decorated building. Shorter than the other buildings. No idea at all what it's for. The only solid pattern of note is the large number of those cube things on top."

The taskmaster sighed. "Okay, probably not any short-term threat. Wait, what about that?"

Survival took over for some reason. "A black-and-greenish-tan car just breezed by, but now is pulling over a few meters ahead. Now two women are getting out. They are looking at us."

Ethnology and physical anthropology spoke up. "One has a honey-blonde crew cut - just a shade darker than ours - and olive skin. The other one has a dark black crew cut and brown skin. Though both have what we might call Slavic facial features... except for the almond-shaped eyes." Insistently: "Something is really wrong somewhere. Seriously. The faces we're seeing are subtly off from every scheme or pattern we know."

The taskmaster brushed that off. "Never mind their faces. There's something about their uniforms."

Survival broke in. "Those are the ones we tagged 'probable law enforcement'."

The taskmaster froze up. "This is... highly alarming. What strategies do we have -"

The dark-haired cop said something, looking right in my eyes.

That snapped me out of it. It was like my brain clicked into focus. I was a scandalously-dressed oddball and the police were addressing me. It was flatly impossible that I'd be able to speak any language they knew.
 
2021-04-14 8:21:51 PM  

WastrelWay: Sarah Jessica Farker: I'm not much of a writer, but I did write a Tom Swifty over 20 years ago of which I am very proud.

"Over here is the tomb of Elmer Fudd," Tom quipped.

I guess I'm slow today, but I don't get it.... but please, no spoilers.

"I am dying, Egypt, dying," said Tom, deep in denial.


"I don't get it either," he said befuddledly.
 
2021-04-14 8:29:33 PM  
"I hate this fish," Tom carped.

"I'm into gay necrophilia," said Tom in dead earnest.
 
2021-04-14 8:31:27 PM  
"Pete, Pete," Tom repeated.
 
2021-04-14 8:35:36 PM  

dailygrinds: WastrelWay: Sarah Jessica Farker: I'm not much of a writer, but I did write a Tom Swifty over 20 years ago of which I am very proud.

"Over here is the tomb of Elmer Fudd," Tom quipped.

I guess I'm slow today, but I don't get it.... but please, no spoilers.

"I am dying, Egypt, dying," said Tom, deep in denial.

"I don't get it either," he said befuddledly.


The two guys I told it to when I first made it up - one got it, the other one didn't. The one who didn't get it kept saying, "quipped?" and the other guy and I kept laughing harder and harder!
 
2021-04-14 8:37:27 PM  
"I answered your letter, " Tom replied.
 
2021-04-14 8:39:47 PM  
"I disagree with everything you say, " Tom argued.
 
2021-04-14 8:46:09 PM  
"We need more lube," Tom said drily.
 
2021-04-14 8:59:43 PM  
"Please, no more. I'll tell you anything you want to know," Tom cracked.
 
2021-04-14 9:03:45 PM  
"I was cheated out of a gold mine!" Tom exclaimed.
 
2021-04-14 9:05:20 PM  

Sarah Jessica Farker: dailygrinds: WastrelWay: Sarah Jessica Farker: I'm not much of a writer, but I did write a Tom Swifty over 20 years ago of which I am very proud.

"Over here is the tomb of Elmer Fudd," Tom quipped.

I guess I'm slow today, but I don't get it.... but please, no spoilers.

"I am dying, Egypt, dying," said Tom, deep in denial.

"I don't get it either," he said befuddledly.

The two guys I told it to when I first made it up - one got it, the other one didn't. The one who didn't get it kept saying, "quipped?" and the other guy and I kept laughing harder and harder!


I had to say it out loud in an Elmer Fudd accent to get it.  Nice job.
 
2021-04-14 9:51:15 PM  
"I'm not watching 'Modern Family' any more!", Tom declared.
 
2021-04-14 10:05:39 PM  
Rob met Judy for the first time at the mall where she worked at the food court.  She was a skinny little thing and seemed kind of frail and sickly but Rob was smitten and they started dating.  Before long Rob decided that he wanted to marry her and met her father to get his permission.

"Well Rob, its wonderful that you love my daughter but you need to know what you're getting yourself into - you see, my Judy has some serious medical conditions.  - She's got acute angina. "

"Yeah, I know  and she's got nice tits, too!"
 
2021-04-14 10:10:35 PM  
Trump walked down the stairs, Tom said condescendingly.
 
2021-04-14 10:11:05 PM  
"Dang it, I cut myself again," Tom said sharply.

"I don't understand how someone can sing like that," Tom said tremulously.

"I prefer my bacon to be dry and crumbly," Tom said crisply.
 
2021-04-14 10:26:02 PM  
I thought there wouldn't be math in this thread.
 
2021-04-14 11:02:36 PM  
"The most efficient way to disembark is by columns, rather than rows, so as to minimize moving merge actions." Tom explained.
 
2021-04-14 11:06:11 PM  
"Those aren't mine!" Tom exclaimed.
 
2021-04-14 11:12:49 PM  
Tom maintained stony silence throughout most of the divorce proceedings, but finally lost his temper at her cavalier description of bedroom activities; "Four minutes isn't premature!" He ejaculated angrily.
 
2021-04-14 11:24:19 PM  
"I heal your sick, feed your hungry, all while putting on a free magic show, and THIS is how you repay me?" Jesus asked, crossly.
 
2021-04-14 11:39:24 PM  
"Got anything to put on these waffles?" asked Tom surreptitiously.
 
2021-04-14 11:44:35 PM  
I dropped the toothpaste, said Tom crestfallen.
 
2021-04-14 11:45:23 PM  
"The left tank is empty," said Tom rightfully.
 
2021-04-14 11:55:02 PM  

covfefe: I dropped the toothpaste, said Tom crestfallen.


"I have exactly 12 ounces of soda," Tom fantasized.
 
2021-04-15 12:48:03 AM  
"Sorry I'm late," said Tom belatedly.
 
2021-04-15 1:18:02 AM  
'Fifty dollars a month might be too much for her OnlyFans,' Tom thought.
 
2021-04-15 1:21:04 AM  
"I finally got these pants to fit right!" Tom belted.
 
2021-04-15 1:25:16 AM  
"I'm pretty sure that planting them in a circle will increase lumber production tenfold," Tom opined.
 
2021-04-15 1:27:29 AM  

kdawg7736: I thought there wouldn't be math in this thread.


"But there totally was," Tom corrected.
 
2021-04-15 1:28:11 AM  
"You're going to have to wine her and dine her first," Tom predicted.
 
2021-04-15 1:30:58 AM  

Theaetetus: kdawg7736: I thought there wouldn't be math in this thread.

"But there totally was," Tom added.

 
2021-04-15 1:31:01 AM  
"Plenty of room in the car, except for you, Claire, you'll have to stay behind," Tom declared.

"This isn't right, Step-sister!" Tom insisted.

"Overcharge me again, and I'll leave you a bad review!" Tom yelped.
 
2021-04-15 1:31:59 AM  

Heamer: Theaetetus: kdawg7736: I thought there wouldn't be math in this thread.

"But there totally was," Tom countered.

 
2021-04-15 1:33:40 AM  
"This graffiti can be removed through sanding," Tom described.
 
2021-04-15 3:57:29 AM  
I swore in a cursory manner when I read this.
 
2021-04-15 4:42:02 AM  
I will try ads-free Fark, said Tom inadvertently
 
2021-04-15 4:45:26 AM  
Formal wear is not for me, said Tom casually.
 
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